“A big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff”
– Dr Who (tenth)
If you have had a local business for a while, you may remember the days of Google Places and Google Business descriptions. Even if you haven’t, this “new and improved” version of business descriptions is worth getting to know.
As I’ve written about another aspects of the Google My Business listings (reviews from the web in the Knowledge Panel), they’re baaack.
As previously, badly written business descriptions on Google listings (spammy, keyword stuffed, etc), will work against business owners / SEO agencies trying to game the ranking algorithm for local packs. This time around, Google has implemented a few new rules and filters to try to reduce the rubbish.
The basics are this:
Enter a brief description of your business—what you offer, what sets you apart, your history, or anything else that’s helpful for customers to know. Focus primarily on details about your business instead of details about promotions, prices, or sales. Do not include URLs or HTML code, or exceed 750 characters in the description field. For the full list of guidelines, read Business description guidelines.
I am encouraging my clients to fill in their business description. Google’s business description goes in the section “from your business name” and appears below your reviews on both the Knowledge Panel on search, and on Maps. It is *not* the same as the very brief summary Google creates and shows beneath the business name & review stars.
It’s also important to remember the description does not publish immediately. Google does advise it may take up to 3 days to appear. Sites I’ve tested took under 24 hours.
There is a little more to it though. There’s the obvious banning of naughtiness you’d expect – things like no: misleading customers, sexually explicit content, child exploitation, profane or hateful language, harassment / bullying language, sale of prohibited goods, terrorist activities, etc.
One thing that may trip up the average person is
No focus on special promotions, prices and offer sale. Examples of content not allowed include, “Everything on sale, -50%, and “Best bagels in town for $5!”.
(Beats the heck out of me how Google are going to enforce that last one. They’re pretty lousy at detecting outright spam in other places. But I digress…)
Oh, and one important thing to note – don’t stuff it full of keywords, thinking you can influence the rankings. Google learned the last time – descriptions are not included in the ranking algorithm.